Saturday, June 24, 2006

Welcome Aboard the Congo Enterprise

It takes several days in Zanzibar to destress, since the first few nights I dream about trucks, kits and chiefs. Except that Brad Pitt was also there, as well as my high school English teacher. I leave Zanzibar with a bit of regret - I have a taste for life on the outside.

Coming back from vacation is actually a vulnerable moment for expats living in Congo or any third world country. There is a lot of stress about living in Congo that you do not notice until you leave. Not the obvious things, like working in bush, but just a subtle shift where the world takes more energy to deal with. Yet I always forget this and come back bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, which lasts for exactly three minutes - the time to exit the plane and enter Congolese immigration.

As I head to baggage claim, it's like I am the Starship Enterprise and my forcefield is down, just as a big group of Klignons try to board. Only I can by them off for a dollar AND they'll carry my bags, and I think the real Klingons would have probably asked for more money and blwown up the bag. And they don't have wrinkly faces. People, it's a metaphor.

By the time I exit the airport two hours later (without baggage, which is somewhere between Nairobi and Zimbabwe), I pray that Congo will stay in Klingon mode and not head to Deathstar phase. I slowly turn the forcefield back on. Congo and I generally have a truce going on, which is that we know enough about each other to not expect any major changes or surprises. For example, if I see a roach so big it looks like it could carry off my couch, I do not have the right to get angry. Congo told me about them roaches a while back. But if this roach manages to get inside my coffee cup and stare at me as I try to add Nescafe, that's stepping over the line. If people try to commit fraud to be included in our distributions, I also do not judge, because they are being resourceful and this is Congo. If its people I know, then I get upset. The irony of the whole thing is that, as much as I know that I cannot keep this up, the thought of leaving freaks me out more than the thought of staying.

10 Comments:

Blogger Adventure Eddy said...

They always say that when you're scared of leaving, it's time to move on.

7:11 PM  
Blogger 007 in Africa said...

Hey there. I can relate 100% about the being scared part. Isn't it the strangest feeling? We'll have a couple of deep meaningful conversations over coffee in DC...

12:10 PM  
Blogger Mike Lane said...

Soon enough, that roach in the coffee will be renamed simply, Protein.

Sorry I forgot to include my email in the last post - I seriously would like to hear more about the safety situation in the DRC if you get a chance. Sources tell me the border with Rwanda is the sketchy bit, and the rest is pretty calm (relatively, of course). Thoughts?

If you get a chance - mikemlane@ gmail.com

6:57 PM  
Blogger Sahara Sarah said...

Eddy, get that darn visa. Come to America.

007, lets plan that coffee date in DC. Scratch that, make it a hard liquor date where we try to get free shots when we explain to the barman what we've been working in Congo.

mike, i'll email. the border with rwanda is the least of it!

9:52 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

You know it's time to go when you are afraid to go. I still get the shakes when walking in grass (mines) and it was only two years...

11:16 AM  
Anonymous giovanni.dicristofano@tin.it said...

couch potato
dedicris: couch potato, a person who watches a lot of television and does not have an active style of life. Guess whom I have in mind.
gail fo: must be you
dedicris: what's a roach ? dedicris: junmbo mosquito? big bee?
gail fo: a roach is a fresh water fish u idiot. I used to catch them in the Thames
dedicris: wait a moment fisherwoman....
dedicris: -For example, if I see a roach so big it looks like it could carry off my couch, I do not have the right to get angry. Congo told me about them roaches a while back. But if this roach manages to get inside my coffee cup and stare at me as I try to add Nescafe, that's stepping over the line.-
dedicris: u idiot, couch potato
gail fo: that's u because u eat so many crisps and popcorn
dedicris: US INFORMAL FOR cockroach. A a flat brown or black insect sometimes found in the home: .you had better to wear panties

4:48 PM  
Blogger chica said...

Quoted a bit of yours on mine.
Hope you don't mind.
When are you meant to be leaving?
http://nayembi.blogspot.com

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Vicki said...

You're a brave and committed woman. KUDOS!

5:55 PM  
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